Kamala’s Ace In The Hole? $91 Million Biden-Harris Campaign Fund Looms Large

July 2, 2024   |   Tags:
Kamala's Ace In The Hole? $91 Million Biden-Harris Campaign Fund Looms Large

As the Biden presidency teeters in the wake of last week's disastrous debate performance that left no doubt about his sharp mental decline, discussion of Vice President Kamala Harris's prospects for becoming the party's new 2024 standard-bearer tend to focus on her (lack of) electability and Democrats' reluctance to pass over a black woman who holds the title that makes her a natural successor. 

Little attention has been paid to what might be Kamala's greatest asset: her name on the $91.2 million Biden-Harris campaign account. Per federal election rules, in the event Biden drops out, that account can't simply be handed over to whomever the party eventually nominates for president -- unless it's Harris.  

According to NBC News, the question of what would happen to the Biden-Harris war chest surfaced on a tense Sunday conference call hosted by the Biden campaign with an audience that included some 40 top Biden donors. While denying Biden might drop out, campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez's answer was that most of the money would fall into Harris's control.  

But there's a catch: Many campaign finance experts say that's only true if Harris becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. “Both candidates are on the account,” former Federal Election Commission (FEC) associate general counsel Kenneth Gross told NBC News. “And I would think that she would be able to use the money if she is running for president. She would be the only one that could do that.”

Campaign Legal Center senior legal counsel Shanna Ports concurs, telling the Wall Street Journal that, if Harris is atop the ticket, “she would maintain access to all the funds in the committee and could use them to advance her presidential candidacy."  

Critically, the Campaign Legal Center told NBC News that if Harris were merely the VP nominee paired with a new headliner, she wouldn't be able to tap the funds, as the new ticket would be considered an entirely different campaign organization. Political law attorney Claire Rajan said that was likely the correct interpretation of FEC law. Gross was unsure, and said interested parties would be wise to seek the FEC's opinion. Until that particular question is decisively answered, the lingering uncertainty is itself another plus for Harris. 

What if Harris doesn't take any slot on the final Democratic ticket? 

If Harris did not become the nominee...the Campaign Legal Center’s campaign finance team noted that Biden’s campaign money could be converted into a political action committee. But a PAC can only make a small maximum donation of $3,300 per election to another candidate. The Biden campaign could also refund donors’ contributions, who could in turn donate to a new candidate. -- NBC News 

Other apparent options in that situation: transferring the cash horde to a charity, to the national Democratic Party, or to a Super PAC. Note, however, that Super PACs are forbidden from donating to candidates, and are also barred from coordinating their actions and strategy with political campaigns.  

No matter how you add it up, recasting the Democratic ticket would be a financially and politically thorny undertaking -- one that could even invite litigation from disenchanted donors or even Harris.

On the other hand, it's clear that Harris would be a weak presidential candidate. A June CBS News poll taken before the debate found she had a 52% disapproval rating. More to the point, a February New York Times/Siena College poll that, in a head-to-head contest with Trump, Harris trailed the former president by 6 points -- two points worse than Biden at the time. 

...then there's that trademark empty blathering punctuated by excruciating cackles: 

Tyler Durden Tue, 07/02/2024 - 07:45


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